Seriously, one of my favorite things about summer weekends is having a refreshing adult beverage out-of-doors on a sunny, warm afternoon. Living where I do in West Hollywood, I can walk to a plethora of bars and restaurants that have nice courtyards or outdoor seating areas. Sadly though, for the most part they play hellish music, way too loud and the selection of cocktails are often over priced and, I don't know, pedestrian. Cosmopolitans? Yeah, if it were 1997. Lemon drops? Too sweet. Mojito? Insert indifferent shrug here. And don't even get me started on the establishment known for its staggering array of martinis the flavors of which include, but are not limited; to key lime pie, Butterfinger candy bars, caramel apple, dulce de Leche, chocolate banana, and creamsicle. God, my teeth hurt just thinking about them.
I suppose I ought to cultivate an appreciation for like, scotch on the rocks or whatever. And yet, there is just something about the clinky, swooshy sound of a cocktail shaker being joggled back and forth that just makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. You can imagine my excitement when I received the July issue of Bon Appetite, which features a number of refreshingly unusual recipes for margaritas, created by a Portland mixologist named Ryan Magarian. They all include seasonal fruits and unexpected herbs. This one in particular spoke to me.
12 blackberries, plus 2 for garnish
4 sprigs of fresh thyme, plus 2 for garnish
3 tablespoons simple syrup
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
6 tablespoons silver tequila
1 tablespoon orange flavored liquor, such as Triple Sec, Grand Marnier, or Cointreau
1/4 cup sparkling wine
Place the blackberries and the thyme in a cocktail shaker and using a muddler, pulverize the berries until they are pretty much a juicy mess. Add the simple syrup, lime juice, tequila, and orange liquor. Toss in a couple handfuls of ice and shake until the cocktail shaker is so cold you can't stand to hold it anymore.
Strain into two ice-filled glasses. Top off with the sparkling wine and then garnish with the remaining thyme sprigs and blackberries. Enjoy.
Okay so first let me say that the thyme is kind of brilliant. Even though it seems strange to include it in a drink, it actually works really well. It's just ever so woodsy and yet lemony at the same time, which works well with the lime juice. The blackberries are tart/sweet but not too sweet. It sort of balances out the acidity of the lime. The splash of sparkling wine adds a welcome finish of brightness and fizz.
One I idea I had after consuming a few of these is that an interesting variation on this might be to use tarragon in lieu of thyme. Tarragon and blackberries are great together. I wonder if you could do a combination of strawberries and basil. However, it's possible that the basil might turn an unappetizing color once it's muddled. I may have to do some experimenting this weekend...
Makes 2 drinks